Those who love Formula One may know that life can be an exhilarating thrill, but it’s a different glorious thing altogether to race for your country’s pride and name.
Representing the Philippines in the international karting scene is William John Riley Go, the Cebuano Chinoy teenager taking the racing world by storm! His impressive achievements include becoming the first Filipino to bag three overall Asian Karting Championship titles, as well as winning the 2022 Super ROK Cup Superfinal.
And he’s just getting started!
Ready, Set, Go: On racing beginnings
Racing would not probably be the first activity you’d think of when considering childhood hobbies — unless you’re thinking of virtually playing Mario Kart on your Nintendo DS — but William has always found himself surrounded by lovers of the sport. As the only son and the youngest of three siblings, William recalled spending a lot of time on the racing track with his father, whose friends had also brought along their own sons to race with, including the now UK-based Formula Four racer Eduardo Coseteng.
Unsurprisingly, William began to show interest in racing even at the young and apparently ripe age of two. Then, inevitably, through years of exposure and shared interest, he finally took the racing wheel himself when he was six years old.
As it turned out, William was ambitious and talented. Encouraged by Coseteng’s father, William and his family then decided to branch out of the Philippines and see how far William’s budding racing career could go. This is how he came to win three Asian championships (the IAME X30 Asia, the Asian Karting Open Championship, and ROK Cup Singapore), as well as a runner-up title at the ROK Asia Cup at just 11 years old in 2019.
Gaining momentum from his strong results, William then succeeded in obtaining an opportunity to race in Europe; however, the string of victories was abruptly cut short when the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic paused the world and any plans of further developing a racing career.
And so, for two whole years, William’s karting dreams came to a standstill.
Starting Anew: On getting back in and winning
Although William spent 2020 and 2021 in lockdown, this does not mean that he no longer practiced racing. On the contrary, he kept himself active through racing simulations at home — to great results.
In 2022, international karting competitions were once again up and running. During this time, William quickly established himself as an up-and-rising contender when he entered the WSK Euro Series and became the first Filipino to land on the podium in the prestigious circuit, seizing bronze at the OK junior category of the Circuito South Garda Karting in Lombardia, Italy.
“An unexpected and memorable weekend! I am thrilled to announce that I managed to secure a podium (P3) out of 70 drivers in the first round of the WSK Euro Series,” wrote William on a celebratory Instagram post. “As the first Filipino to bag a podium in the WSK series, it is indeed a great joy for me to bring pride to the Philippines.”
William then proceeded to follow these results with other first-time achievements for the Philippines, including nabbing a second-place finish at the FIA Karting Academy in Genk, Belgium, and winning the World title for the Super ROK division of the 2022 ROK Superfinal in Lonato, Italy, where he also earned the pole position and entered the fastest lap.
Such races also once hosted the likes of renowned Formula One drivers such as Charles Leclerc, George Russell, and Esteban Ocon.
Celebrating his victory, William posted: “My dream became a reality — my First Win in Europe! Ever since I was racing locally in the Philippines, being able to compete in Europe, the home of the best of the best in karting, was always on the bucket list. When I was finally given the opportunity to do so, I knew becoming victorious in the continent was extremely challenging due to the amount of talent and experience in the grid. Nevertheless, I decided to keep dreaming for that win since there was no harm in doing so anyway.”
“There was a surreal amount of joy from myself and everyone who supported me. This one-of-a-kind milestone would not have been possible without my family, my team: Zanchi Motorsports, my mechanic: Lazzaro Ferri, my coach: Davide Fore, my engine builder: Miliziano Engines, my companion: Marthny Milano, and the Lord. I would also like to congratulate the other racers who won and my fellow Filipino racers for a job well done. Truly a one-of-a-kind experience that motivates me to reach my dreams despite how ambitious they may seem!” he continued.
Now in 2023, William is looking forward to more competitions with hopes of more success.
“For 2023, I want to capitalize on what I did last year. From the win in the ROK Cup Superfinal race to the WSK and FIA Academy podiums, I want to do better, so I can hopefully bring pride to the Philippines in the world of motorsports,” stated William in a press event before beginning his season.
Ultimately, however, his goal is to one day race in Formula One.
“I just don’t do it for myself. I do it for my country, the Philippines. And I also do it for my team. Every time I want to win, I don’t just think of myself. Always, I want to put the country on top.”